Eye On The Opposition: Everton vs Crystal Palace (10/2/2018)

Written by Jack Pierce

4 February 2017 - Palace 0 - 4 Sunderland.

3 February 2018 - Arsenal 5 - 1 Everton.

I think it's fair to say to say Sam Allardyce may not be a fan of the first weekend of the second month.

Since taking over at Everton in November, the period of grace has ended and criticism from fans is now gaining momentum. It's a far cry from the high praise put his way at the end of last season by Palace and other fans following the superb job he in his short time as Palace manager. Allardyce left Palace at a time when Palace fans really could've done without him going; the club felt secure under his guidance and after a period of many managers coming and going, the Palace faithful would've appreciated some stability.

It wasn't to be once the then manager decided he'd had enough and wanted a break from top flight management. That was at least until Farhad Moshiri called and offered the chance to manage one of English football's grandest clubs as well as a substantial pay packet.

If Allardyce had a honeymoon, it's now over. Evertonians, a proud bunch, are questioning the appointment and appear unhappy at how willing their new manager is to criticise players and refuse to acknowledge his own failings. I'm not sure why they're surprised, Allardyce hardly has a reputation for a self effacing nature or his modesty. He should've been given a chance at one of Europe's big clubs, don't you know?

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January business was executed fairly efficiently but at significant cost. Cenk Tosun, from Besiktas, and Theo Walcott, from Arsenal, arrived at a combined price of nearly £50 million. Eliaquim Mangala also signed for The Toffees on loan until the end of the season. On paper, decent enough additions but the reality is that Tosun will take time to settle and Mangala's limitations are a known quantity to Premier League opponents. Walcott is likely to improve his new side and his winning contribution in the recent victory against Leicester should give Evertonians hope that the 28 year old still possesses the hunger to prove himself at the top level.

Allardyce has likened Mangala's signing to that of Mamadou Sakho this time last year. As we all know, Sakho's arrival was a huge part of Palace staying up last season and if Mangala has half the impact that Sakho did then it'll have been a positive move for both the player and the club. However, Mangala's first 45 minutes in a royal blue shirt suggested that he won't be quite the success that his compatriot was in red and blue last season. Forming part of a back three, the French international looked lost at sea and probably yearned for a return to the safety and comfort of the Manchester City bench. Things settled down in the second half but it's fair to say that Mangala would've hoped to have made a slightly better first impression that he did.

A lot of Everton fans would like the season to end now and start afresh with a pre season. Unfortunately for them, they're not quite out of the woods yet. Only four points above Palace, a loss on Saturday would see Everton pulled right back into the dogfight and further hounding of the manager and the board.

It's likely to be another bitterly cold trip to Merseyside for those travelling for the game.

A point will be the least those souls deserve. 

Key players

Eliaquim Mangala 

Made available for loan after City signed Aymeric Laporte, the central defender was courted by several Premier League clubs. Everton won the race and Mangala is likely to form part of The Toffees' backline until the end of the season.

Signed at great expense by City three years ago, Mangala has never really proved himself. Often deemed a weak link in a City defence hardly renowned for its solidity, the Frenchman is now needing a spell at a club to reassert his reputation.

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Tom Davies

The only player praised by Sam Allardyce after last week's mailing at The Emirates, Davies did his bit and buzzed about during the second half after his entry into the fray.

Adored by Evertonians, there is a great hope that Davies becomes a permanent part of the furniture at Goodison for the next decade or so. What happened to Ross Barkley left a bitter taste in a lot of Toffees' mouths and the idea of that happening with Davies would not be greeted well.

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Theo Walcott

If ever a player needed a move, it was Theo Walcott. His time at Arsenal had clearly come to its natural end and if Walcott wanted to even try and maximise his potential he had to move on. Sounds odd given he's 28 but there is still hope Walcott will get better and prove those who championed him 12 years ago right.

He has been deployed wide by Allardyce in his three appearances so far but will hope to be given a chance through the middle. Wherever he's deployed tomorrow, his freshness and will to show he's the player some doubt he is will make him a definite threat to Palace's back line.

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